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Profiles in Agribusiness: A&B Milling Company
Aunt Ruby’s Takes a North Carolina Treasure National
Bob Allsbrook carries on the tradition of banking in the same building the company did back in 1945, with PNC Bank and its predecessors. He likes knowing he can consult with local representatives who know his business and its history whenever he has a question or need.
Shortly after Bob Allsbrook took the reins of his family’s feed, seed and fertilizer business in 1972, a government dairy buyout caused him to rethink the direction of A&B Milling Company in historic Halifax County, North Carolina.
“Our business had been based primarily on dairy feed, so when farmers started closing their dairies in response to the buyout, we lost a lot of customers,” says Allsbrook, who joined A&B Milling (founded by his father and uncle in 1945) in 1967. “Since we had for years been custom-shelling peanuts for farmers to plant, and we knew that North Carolina grows some of the best peanuts in the world, we decided to shift our focus to selling peanut products.”
That strategic move put A&B on track to becoming a thriving national gourmet gift and snack company, operating under the Aunt Ruby’s brand name. Aunt Ruby’s sells a wide variety of peanut, almond, cashew and pistachio gifts to retailers, consumers and businesses through mail order and online channels, as well as through a brick-and-mortar store in Enfield.
“We buy the highest grade of Virginia-style peanuts from local shellers and then do the cooking and processing here at our local plant,” says Allsbrook. [Virginia peanuts are known for their lower fat content, large meaty size, and excellent flavor and texture.] “We’re particularly busy from September 1st through the end of the year, as people are buying holiday gifts and entertaining.”
During that busy season, A&B employs about 40 people — 30 more than during the other months of the year. And while Allsbrook says he is old enough to retire, he has no intentions of doing that anytime soon. “I worked here when I was in high school and then came back after college,” he shares. “It’s the only job I’ve ever had, and I still love working here.”
Allsbrook carries on the tradition of banking in the same building the company did back in 1945, with PNC Bank and its predecessors. He likes knowing he can consult with local representatives who know his business and its history whenever he has a question or need.
That peace of mind is important to a business on a continuing growth path — and A&B certainly continues to grow! “The internet and social media have really helped fuel our growth,” Allsbrook explains. “We encourage our customers to create personal and corporate gift lists online. When they send gifts to these friends, family members, customers and business associates, these recipients in turn become customers, who build their own gift lists. We continue to grow because people love our products and share them with others.”
A&B Milling Company
Company: A&B Milling Company
Location: Enfield, NC
The internet and social media have really helped fuel our growth. We encourage our customers to create personal and corporate gift lists online...We continue to grow because people love our products and share them with others.
Read about another real agribusiness.
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